Triumph’s attempt at cashing in on the scooter craze of the early 1960’s was beset with a series of embarrassing disasters. Launched in 1962, the Tina was a 100cc 2-stroke automatic scooter marketed towards lady riders. The scooter was originally named the Fairey, until the US Triumph distributor insisted on a name change – he was convinced the Fairey moniker would kill all chances of any US sales. So the bike was renamed the Tina – and all the Fairey posters, adverts, brochures and other marketing materials had to be scrapped.
The Tina was fraught with reliability problems. Firstly it proved notoriously difficult to start – particularly frustrating for the lady riders it was aimed at. Secondly the transmission belt had a nasty habit of derailing, locking the back wheel in the process. Even if the rider was lucky enough not to be thrown off, they still faced the problem of being unable to push the scooter as there was no neutral.
Triumph MD Edward Turner was demonstrating the Tina to a group of dealers when he inadvertently started it in the ‘drive’ position rather than the ‘start’ position. He revved it up and was thrown off, breaking an ankle as the little beast sprang forward.
The ‘drive’ switch was relocated under the seat on the improved T10 version of 1965, the idea being that the rider’s weight would activate the switch. At the launch – in front of a crowd of press and dealers – the bike started ok but failed to proceed. The drive switch required a weight of 10st to activate and the svelte model chosen to demonstrate the Tina weighed only 8st.
Poor sales eventually meant the Tina was dropped from the range in 1970 – much to the relief of the Triumph dealers of the day!
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